A good question: Is Rachel Smalley above criticism?

Shalom.Kiwi writes:

Rachel Smalley is a New Zealand journalist and broadcaster who presents a regular morning radio show on Newstalk ZB and writes for the NZ Herald. In 2014 a complaint against her was upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Authority over an opinion piece about the Israel/Gaza conflict that contained substantive inaccuracies.

Apparently wounded by the censure she received in 2014, she has used the Naz Shah anti-Semitism scandal in the UK to illustrate what she sees as a wider problem of the censorship of criticism of Israel, in an opinion piece titled “Is Israel above criticism?”.

As she puts it:

Why is it that a criticism of Israel is so often viewed as a criticism of the Jewish faith? You can criticise any government in the world, any regime, and state, and it goes unnoticed – except Israel. You cannot criticise Israel without being attacked for it.”Rachel Smalley

It’s a common complaint, that you can’t criticise Israel for fear of being labelled anti-Semitic. Except that it’s just not true. There is plenty of criticism of Israel, from Israeli citizens and people around the world. Much of the criticism is legitimate and necessary for a flourishing democracy. As a journalist who has been censured by the Broadcasting Standards Authority, Smalley should understand there is a line between what is legitimate and honest and what is not.

It seems Smalley is confused. The example Smalley produced – of outrage provoked by a Facebook post shared by UK Labour MP Naz Shah advocating the deportation of Jews from Israel to America along with the words “problem solved” – was not mere criticism of Israel, it was pure anti-Semitism. How else to describe the expressed desire to ethnically cleanse the Middle East of Jews? Not only was it uncomfortably reminiscent of other “solutions” to the “Jewish question”, it also denied the ancient and enduring connection of the Jewish People to the land of Israel. Jewish peoplehood, as opposed to the misconceived idea of Jews as a faith group only, is a concept apparently unknown to Rachel Smalley.   

Naz Shah’s post has been almost universally condemned as anti-Semitic, as even she herselfacknowledged it was when she made her apology. Her anti-Semitic Facebook post was not an isolated incident either: other anti-Semitic statements by her have also been revealed, including a Facebook post where she urged her friends to vote in a poll because “the Jews are rallying”. Seen in the context of the now widely acknowledged and growing problem of anti-Semitism in the UK Labour Party since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition, Smalley is not only misguided in her defence, but also ignores the bigger picture.

It is clear that Smalley still feels aggrieved by the “abuse” she says she received over her 2014 opinion piece, which attracted much criticism for its vitriol, wild inaccuracies, and lack of balance or any context. Smalley exaggerated, for example, the number of Palestinian casualties in a Gaza incident by 17,000%; an inaccuracy that led to censure by the BSA. She also maligned Israel by falsely accusing it of targeting civilians, when in fact it went to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian deaths. Entirely ignoring any contribution to the conflict by terror organisation Hamas, Smalley failed to mention Hamas’s own practice of targeting civilians, its modus operandi of storing and firing rockets from schools and hospitals (thereby using civilians as human shields), and the very pertinent point that a significant number of Hamas’s own rockets in fact fell short, landing in Gaza and causing numerous casualties. As Smalley herself admitted at that time “I can’t report the situation in Gaza with balance anymore”. She has clearly not used the intervening two years to acquire information to offer more balanced comment.

Since the reaction to her 2014 eruption of vitriol, Smalley appears not to have reflected on the reasons for the criticism, nor has she made any attempt to correct those mistakes. Instead she deflects the blame on to those who complained. Does Rachel Smalley just think that she is above criticism?

Yes, she does think she is above criticism. She is the only ‘serious’ journalist at NewstalkZB, until recently had the ear of Jane Hastings, and was behind the effective ban of me on air at NewstalkZB. She is a weapons-grade hypocrite, claiming press freedoms and journalistic freedom to say whatever she wants while quietly and surreptitiously silencing those she disagrees with. To cap it all off, she is desperately stupid and doesn’t actually know it. The “Kepler” vests gaffe was a case in point.

Smalley’s claim that Israel can never be criticised leads one to question: has Smalley ever in the last 20 years opened a newspaper, listened to the radio, or watched television? No country is more criticised than Israel, especially at the UN where more resolutions are passed by theocracies, dictatorships, and Islamic protectorates against Israel than the rest of the world combined. Despite this, Israel maintains a vibrant and liberal democracy that rivals New Zealand in freedoms and tolerance in a part of the world that is mostly under dictatorial theocratic rule.

Israel is not above criticism. Criticism of the government’s policies and actions is at times justified and claims of anti-Semitism should not be made to simply deflect such criticism. Conversely, Smalley’s implied accusation – that Jews try to suppress all criticism of Israel by labelling such criticism as anti-Semitic – is simply not backed up by evidence and is an often-applied smokescreen to mask true anti-Semitism – and in this case, to defend shoddy journalism.

Had Ms Smalley’s critique been informed, contextualised, accurate and measured, rather than vitriolic, hateful and factually incorrect, perhaps she could have avoided attracting the criticism that has so clearly hit a raw nerve.

She doesn’t like it up her. Try being in a studio with her. I have; it’s hilarious watching her trying to avoid eye contact. She’s just like most media: lecturing, hectoring and sermonising from their self-appointed platform, with a microphone and the ever-present finger on the dump button in case someone disagrees.


– Shalom.Kiwi


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  • Curly1952

    “ever present finger on the dump button” – Except the time she so proudly announced that we had “heifers & lardos” in our midst. Everytime I hear her I cringe thinking of the rubbish that, and is yet to, emanate from her mouth

  • Ravan

    Is that the same ‘Khan’ who lives in the UK who is said to have made White-hating, racist comments about the English and Christian-hating comments quoted in barenakedislam: 1) ‘”There are too many White men in the Transit Authority?” 2) “Let Turkey join (EU)—EU should not be a Christian Club.”

  • Left Right Out

    “You can criticise any government in the world, any regime, and state, and it goes unnoticed”…….. really….. criticise islam and your suddenly an islamaphobe and that definately doesn’t go unnoticed

    • Eddie

      Try making a joke about Turkey.

      • OneTrack

        Even when you live in Germany.

    • dumbshit

      She should run that one past the staff, left at “Charlie Hebro” magazine!

  • Eddie

    Another case in point is her misuse of the phrase. She has a limited capacity for logic, reason, and the English language. Why is she still employed as a Journalist?

    • Isherman

      ‘Desperately stupid’ doesn’t even really begin to describe this one does it. Shoshana is right…there are no words.

  • cows4me

    Leave her alone, after listening to her for five minutes I have to get out of bed and chase some cows, best alarm clock ever.

  • Cadwallader

    The cruel and unusual punishment Newstalk inflict on its listeners is having her fill Larry’s slot during his holidays. I can’t abide this stupid flakey woman.

  • Aucky

    What worries me is that she might be lining herself up for Leighton or Larry’s show. It’s always been my deep suspicion that her current one hour graveyard slot was created for her by a ‘friendly’ management when she left TV. Who would want a one hour gig at that time for any other reason than to get a foot in the door and use it as a stepping stone?

    • Carl

      I’d be surprised if she wanted Leighton’s job. As she is a serious journo general talk back would be below her.

      • Aucky

        Commercial considerations will be the deal breaker. The majority of Leighton’s big advertisers are targeting the mid-upper end of the market who would evaporate in an instant were Smalley to take over. Maybe ZB don’t care and it will be fascinating to see where ZB heads now that Hastings has gone.

      • biscuit barrel

        The pay on radio is so much better than a lot of other slots- if you are successful.
        Remember Hosking came from Red Radio, he just called up his inner entrepreneur and shifted his views accordingly

    • That friendly management has largely left now…or gone sideways.

  • Dave

    Its an interesting base level stat, but take a look at the ZB presenters Facebook posts on ZB, whenever Smalley has an article, most strongly disagree and are negative towards her, whereas most other ZB presenters posts are positive, to neutral. It says a lot.

    If ZB managers and strategists were taking any note, they would trot out the famous Pauls Bennett phrase, “Zip it Sweetie”

    • Eddie

      Aren’t the comments good for their ratings, though? Maybe they like having a bigot bimbo on their show so people will come and see their sponsors. Just don’t tell them that I won’t use KPMG because of their association and tacit support of Smalley’s racism.

      • Dumrse

        You’re not being too kind to Bimbo’s, they are mostly attractive whilst being stupid.

        • PhantomsDoc

          Funny, I thought that was Heifers…

  • Eddie

    How ironic that she is fully supportive of censoring Wicked Camper slogans but thinks an MP sould be allowed to say Jews are a problem that would be solved if they were out of their homeland.

  • Nesher

    I think Rachel Smalley should be above criticism because she is sick. She hates Israel so much that she can’t manage her anger, can’t comprehend what’s going on around, can’t control herself and can’t be responsible for her actions. I wish her to find a good doctor (Israeli or not Israeli – doesn’t matter). I wish her a quick recovery. I wish her to learn saying anything positive about Israel (at least one positive thing for every ten negative). And Rachel, you are not required to do this when you are in Gaza or in any Muslim country – you can be executed for not-demonising Israel. Also please don’t even think about criticising any Muslim countries – I don’t want you to lose your freedom or life for learning of what being “above criticism” actually means.

  • JEL51

    There is little depth to be found in this one with such ambition. The last two paragraphs above say it all. ZB are going to drop in ratings fast if they can’t see it soon.

  • andrewo

    She’s so light weight and superficial. Time they got someone else in.

    • Nige.

      Call them and tell them. Call her and tell her.

      Oh yes. She doesn’t take TalkBack calls

      • Dumrse

        She will next week, unfortunately for all of us she takes Larrys slot at 4pm.

        • OneTrack

          I won’t be listening.

          • PhantomsDoc

            Same here. If Jack and Rach are both on then it’s the rock for me all week. Can’t stomach either of them and change the channel as soon as I find one of them on.

  • biscuit barrel

    “She is the only ‘serious’ journalist at NewstalkZB, until recently had the ear of Jane Hastings, and was behind the effective ban of me on air at NewstalkZB”

    I thought that was for obvious reasons regarding ‘a newspaper’

  • JC

    OK, I’ve read the piece and for me there’s only three things to discuss about it.

    One is the formal censure for her anti-semitic statements on Gaza which she still doesn’t accept (and which means she shouldn’t be allowed to continue to comment in a reputable newspaper)

    The second is her bald statement that ..

    “Donald Trump, who has said that Muslims should be banned from entering the United States”.

    That isn’t even half a truth.. what Trump said was..

    “(New York, NY) December 7th, 2015, — Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.
    According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released
    data showing “25% of those polled agreed that violence against
    Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the globaljihad” and 51% of those polled, “agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.” Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.

    Mr. Trump stated, “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the
    victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again.” – Donald J. Trump”

    It’s almost a crime to say Trump called for a ban without quoting at least some of the rest of the statement to show his reasoning and the temporary nature of the ban.

    The third has been well covered.. Israel is easily the most criticised country in the world.. purely because of anti-semitism.

    Smalley and Newstalk ZB are loudly and proudly proclaiming their ongoing anti-semitism.